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CPR

“Army” of People Work to Save Life of Sound Beach Man

Sound Beach resident Jim Kennedy, right, and his wife Trish. Jim’s life was saved thanks to scores of people, from the samaritan who performed CPR to the doctors at Stony Brook University Hospital. Photo from Trish Kennedy

What was just a day of golfing with his two sons turned into a life or death situation for one Miller Place School District athletic director and another area resident. It became a day where scores of people, both medical and nonmedical alike, worked to save a man’s life and return him to his family, alive and with his full faculties.

The Kennedy family said they would have lost their father and husband if it weren’t for Pietrie and the other medical staff that saved his life. Photo from Trish Kennedy

It was a bright sunny day the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, May 22. Ron Petrie, of Sound Beach, was out with his two sons Michael and Matthew for a day of golf at the Rolling Oaks Golf Course in Rocky Point. Being it was a popular day for some socially distanced sports at the course, the trio was paired up with fellow Sound Beach resident Jim Kennedy. They were strangers, but they got to talking as they moved languidly across the greens. Petrie’s sons were still relatively new to golf and were taking it slow to learn more of the ropes. 

Petrie said he could tell that the new acquaintance loved his wife and two daughters just by the way he talked of them and how one of his daughters just recently graduated from college. 

Then at the 8th hole, Petrie turned around, and said he saw Kennedy a few yards behind them. The man had fallen face down in the fairway. He didn’t seem responsive. 

“The initial thing is just to figure out what was going on,” Petrie said, remembering the events of a few weeks ago. “It was kind of a sense of we’ve got to figure out what’s going on … It was definitely unnerving.”

Petrie got to the ground and rolled Kennedy over onto his back. He shook him, shouted his name, but there was no response. He checked everywhere, from his carotid to his brachial arteries for a pulse, but could not find it. The man was in agonal breathing, as if he was gasping for air, whenever the athletic director moved or shifted him. Though Petrie didn’t know it, the man was having a heart attack, and a severe one at that.

He told one of his sons to call 911, then that they should clear the area of any kinds of obstructions like golf clubs and bags and stand at the top of a nearby hill to flag down the emergency service vehicles that came by. Despite the threat of the COVID-19 virus, the athletic director began compressions and continued it for about five minutes until emergency responders arrived.

It’s something that as the head of athletics, as well as health and physical education, is kept up to date with the latest training every year. He fell into the steps of compressions. He saw the man had lost all control of bodily function and fluid. He had already vomited and he decided to focus on what he could control, that being pumping Kennedy’s heart for him.

“I coached for 25 years, I’ve gone through every gamut of CPR that it seems every two years they’re changing,” Petrie said. “The latest protocols are when in doubt, hands only, breaths are secondary.”

Medical professionals would learn Petrie’s actions most certainly saved the man’s life, and likely helped preserve the man in what is the most consequential time in a heart attack, where oxygen no longer is being pumped up to the brain. 

Speaking many days after his time in the hospital, as he continues his recovery day by day, Kennedy said he remembers very little of what he was doing before he collapsed, and practically nothing until he found he was lying in a bed at Stony Brook University Hospital. He learned later his heart attack, caused by the complete blockage of the left anterior descending artery, is sometimes called the widow maker, as that specific artery provides blood into the heart, allowing it to function properly.

EMTs on the scene put him on a machine to do compressions and managed to get a weak pulse back in Kennedy, about 15 minutes after he went down. The ambulance team decided to take Kennedy to Stony Brook University Hospital’s cardiac department, where nurses and doctors would spend nearly the next nine hours in battle over the man’s life.

Kennedy’s sister, Kathleen Taibi, just happens to work as a nurse practitioner at the Stony Brook cardiac department. Her husband, Dr. William Taibi was Kennedy’s physician before he retired from his own practice in 2016. The duo received the call of Kennedy’s circumstances from their house upstate. They rushed down to Stony Brook, who let the Taibis and Kennedy’s wife, Trish, into the normally restricted lab, as many there thought it could have potentially been the husband’s final moments.

Doctors in the catheterization lab put two stents in his artery to open the worst of the blockages. After that though, Kennedy suffered two more cardiac arrests after he was put into the coronary care unit. An army of staff “worked on him and worked on him and worked on him,” William Taibi said. Medical professionals managed to stabilize him during the second round of catheterization.

The doctors put the man in an induced coma for several days, using an intentional cooling of the body to minimize the amount of oxygen the brain and body need. When he was warmed and awoke that following Monday, doctors and family were relieved to find he did not seem to have any damage in brain function. In just a little over a week he was released from the hospital.

“He came out of it miraculously,” Taibi said. “There were all sorts of miraculous events … if you’re looking for a hero story, it’s [Petrie and his sons], they performed CPR on him in the time of COVID. They were able to give him those first five minutes, that’s probably why he has his brain function today.”

Despite having never really met each other until that day on the golf course, it just so happens that both men were connected through the school district. Justine Scutaro, who teaches in the district and is also the girls volleyball coach, is the goddaughter to Kennedy.

“I’m just happy the family still has him in their lives,” Petrie said. 

Kennedy, who works as a corrections officer for Suffolk County, remembers very little of events, only really up until the Wednesday after Memorial Day.

“I’m feeling a little better every day — when I came home everybody was really happy to see me upright and able to walk.” he said “I’ll forever be indebted to Ron.”

Trish Kennedy said Petrie “is our hero — performing CPR on a total stranger — especially during this pandemic.” She added that the work of everyone, from the athletic director to the people in the ambulance to the men and women in the hospital, helped save her husband’s life.

“Ron not only saved my husband, he saved [my daughters’] Kimberly and Kaitlyn’s dad,” she said.

Petrie said CPR is taught during the first quarter of health classes every year. Students wonder aloud why they have to learn the skill or when they will have to use it.

“We got him to where he needed to be,” he said. “To think his family will have the opportunity to be together, to know they will still have that opportunity, is a huge relief.”

The story printed in the June 4 issue of the Village Beacon Record incorrectly spelled Petrie’s name. This version corrects that error.

Port Jefferson Trustee Larry LaPointe stands with code officers, from left, James Murdocco, John Vinicombe, Paul Barbato and Gina Savoie as they pose with their proclamations. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Port Jefferson Village honored five code enforcement officers on Monday night who officials say went above the call of duty to serve the community.

Two helped save an overdosing man’s life, one attempted to revive a car crash victim, another thwarted a burglary and a lieutenant protected the village during the recent heavy snowstorm. The board of trustees presented them with proclamations for their service to cheers from the audience at Village Hall.

Gina Savoie was commended for preventing a break-in at a home in the Harbor Hills area earlier this month after she saw suspicious activity and called for police assistance. According to code bureau Chief Wally Tomaszewski, two Coram residents were arrested for loitering as a result.

Paul Barbato, who received a proclamation last year for reviving a man in cardiac arrest at a Port Jefferson restaurant, was honored again Monday for attempting to save a Belle Terre man trapped inside a Lamborghini that had crashed into a pole on East Broadway. Barbato, the first on the scene of the mid-December crash near High Street, got inside the car and performed CPR.

Lt. John Borrero is honored. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Lt. John Borrero is honored. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Although his attempt ultimately proved unsuccessful, he “tried desperately to save his life,” Tomaszewski said in a previous interview. “Believe me, his boots were filled with blood.”

A couple of weeks later, James Murdocco and John Vinicombe responded to an opioid overdose at the Islandwide Taxi stand near the Port Jefferson Long Island Rail Road station. Mayor Margot Garant said Monday that the officers were told the young victim was dead, and they found no pulse or respiration. Murdocco and Vinicombe each administered the anti-overdose medication Narcan and Murdocco performed CPR.

The man regained consciousness and “became violent,” she said, and had to be restrained.

Garant added an unplanned honor to Monday night’s affair, commending Lt. John Borrero for his work during the blizzard, commonly dubbed Winter Storm Jonas, that hit Long Island hard on Jan. 23.

“I cannot tell you what this one gentleman did, on tour all day, making sure our streets are safe, shutting down roads, calling other code enforcement officers in during a massive blizzard — he’s out there helping employees get to work at St. Charles Hospital,” the mayor said. “Your service to this community is just invaluable, John. I cannot tell you the amount of respect you earned that night.”

She told the audience that there is more to the code enforcement bureau than meets the eye.

“These officers are not merely giving out tickets,” Garant said, “but they’re saving lives.”

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A hockey player was revived from a cardiac arrest on Monday after an off-duty police officer and good Samaritans stepped in.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, the 49-year-old victim went into cardiac arrest and collapsed while playing hockey at the Sports Arena on Middle Country Road in St. James shortly after midnight. The off-duty cop, Steven Turner, who was also playing hockey and works in the SCPD’s Highway Patrol, and several others performed CPR and administered two shocks from the facility’s defibrillator. The collapsed man regained a pulse and started to breathe on his own again following the shocks.

Police said the rescued man was in stable condition at Stony Brook University Hospital.

Code Chief Wally Tomaszewski helps honor officer Paul Barbato on Monday night. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Port Jefferson officials and residents honored a village code officer on Monday night after he helped save another man’s life while on duty.

On March 15, Paul Barbato was working in the village when a call came in of an unconscious man who was not breathing and was slouched over a table at Grumpy Jack’s sports bar and grill on Oakland Avenue in upper Port, according to Mayor Margot Garant. Barbato responded and found the victim did not have a pulse.

“Barbato lowered him to the floor and initiated chest compressions and rescue breathing,” Garant said.

At that point, a Suffolk County police officer made it to the scene with a defibrillator and the pair got the man breathing again. Garant said an ambulance transported the man, who survived the incident, to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital.

The mayor presented Barbato, who was hired in 2012, with a certificate of appreciation during the board of trustees meeting on Monday, to much applause from the crowd of residents in attendance.

According to code bureau Chief Wally Tomaszewski, Barbato was originally trained as a park ranger and when he’s not working in village code enforcement, he transports criminals who are being removed from the U.S., to places as far away as Asia, Europe and North Africa or as close as Canada.

“So when you see a guy aboard an airplane, he’s got somebody with him with a set of handcuffs on, the other guy with the tie is Paul.”

Tomaszewski also said Barbato is tough and when residents see him walking Main Street, they should shake hands with him, “and you’ll notice that he has a hand like a rock. Nobody would dare mess with him.”

But in addition to muscle, he also brings a passion for the job.

“One thing I love about seeing you in the village is you always stop and you say hi and you say how much you love working here,” Garant said to Barbato.

The officer did the same for the audience, saying, “I think this is just one of the nicest places you can get up in the morning and come to work.”

Upon receiving the certificate, he said, “You spoil me here.”

“You saved somebody’s life,” the mayor interjected. “That’s a big deal.”